Most grasses do best when grown in full, direct sunlight. However, sometimes that isn't always attainable due to shading from trees and shrubs. By taking the following steps you can improve growing conditions, lesson grass stress, and improve grass health:
- Let more light in. Even shade-tolerant lawn grasses perform better when given more sun. Whenever possible, trim trees and shrubs to open their canopies. This increases sunlight and improves air circulation, which can benefit your trees and shrubs as well as grasses. For new plantings, consider plants that are naturally open and less dense.
- Restore soil balance. In shade, soil conditions get unbalanced quickly. Low soil pH and poor drainage set the stage for tenacious weeds and undesirable lawn mosses to move in. Soil testing can help restore pH to balance and increase the availability of grass nutrients. Dethatching or aerating compacted soil at the proper time can help alleviate drainage problems.
- Increase mowing height. Mowing higher than normal gives grass more blade surface to capture and process available sun. Higher mowing also encourages deeper roots, which can improve grass resilience and health. Always follow best mowing practices and never remove more than one-third of the blade in any one mowing, or you'll add to grass stress.
- Adjust fertilizer and irrigation schedules. Shaded grass grows more slowly than grass in the sun. While fertilizer can spur growth, stressed grasses can't handle the same amounts as healthy, sun-fueled lawns. Similarly, slow-growing grass generally needs less water. However, competing tree roots can limit available water and nutrients. Monitor your lawn closely and adjust your care to meet the special needs of shaded spots. Contacting a professional to build a thorough aeration and overseeding schedule is recommended.
- Limit lawn traffic. Weak, stressed grass is prone to damage from foot traffic, pets, and kids at play. Relocating play areas and limiting foot traffic helps.